Positive coronavirus cases at North Carolina casino dash hopes for expanded live poker

Posted on: July 21, 2020 10:01 PDT

More bad news for live poker players who argue that Texas Hold’em can be played safely during the coronavirus pandemic. North Carolina health officials are currently investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases after five employees of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino tested positive for the deadly virus within two weeks.

The cases were among employees who were in the table games section of the popular North Carolina casino.

Harrah’s Cherokee currently offers live poker with a maximum of 5 players per table. And while the coronavirus cases were among table game employees and not poker employees, the fact that the cases occurred where cards and chips are in play will hit too close to home for many poker players hoping to ante up.

The new coronavirus cases means that an expansion of live poker to include 6-handed games or higher will likely have to wait even longer.

According to Jackson County Department Public of Health, those affected are following isolation orders.

“Based on information provided by the employees and video surveillance records, no other employees or customers have been identified as close contacts as defined by the CDC,” said Brooks Robinson, regional manager of the casino. “All employees who test positive, show symptoms or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive have been directed not to come to work and to self isolate.”

The casino had been closed since March after Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order shuttering the casino to help stop the spread of the virus. It reopened in late May with 30% capacity, social distancing protocols, and a mask requirement for casino employees.

Health checks have also been conducted on employees working throughout all areas of the casino, a method that seems to be helping health experts identify new cases and respond accordingly.